- Published on Wednesday, 23 March 2005 19:00
For many years, the subject of "Mt. Sinai"- (Jebel el Lawz in NW Saudi Arabia) has been one of utmost concern for Ron. It has been perhaps the greatest frustration he has ever faced, knowing what was there but being unable to get the documentation. In 1984, he and his sons were imprisoned after entering Saudi illegally and going to the mountain- charged with being Israeli spies. Then, in 1985, he was allowed to go to the site legally and investigate it with relative ease, but had all documentation confiscated before he left the country. Although he was promised they would be returned when he came back and completed the excavation of the site, he has been denied all requests to do so.
Finally, several years ago, by no less than a series of miracles, complete documentation of not only the mountain, but of the entire area around it was provided to us. Most of you know the story from our earlier newsletter on the subject, which is also in our "Discoveries Volume". The evidences are mind-boggling, and research on the history of the area is extremely limited. Until the last several years, it was next to impossible to get good maps of the area, but now we can even get detailed satellite imagery.
We have spent many hundreds of hours studying the photos and videos, and have tried to "compact" the basic mass of information into a single report that covers the major points. I believe this issue will make the subject clear; we've tried to include as many photos as possible, some with diagrams to point out features. The basic problem is that there is nothing but rocks out there, and it's difficult to distinguish some features up close- but in the photos taken at a distance, they are clearly distinguished.
We hope you find this report informative. And as exciting as we do!
Ron's theory that Midian and Mt. Sinai were in northwestern Saudi Arabia was not "all that farfetched", as Rene Noorbergen wrote in "Treasures of the Lost Races". Down through the ages, the location of Midian as being in Arabia has been recognized by numerous writers and scholars. "...The Biblical references connecting Sinai with Mount Seir, Edom and the land of Midian seem clearly to indicate this region east of the Aelanitic Gulf (Gulf of Akaba) as pointed out by Beke (1834), Walllhausen (1886), Sayce (1894), Moore (1895), Shede (1897), Gall (1898), Gunkel (1903), Edward Meyer (1906), Schmidt (1908), Gressmann (1913), Haupt (1914) and by Alois Musil in â€˜The Northern Hegaz' (1911)." ("On the Track of the Exodus" by C. C. Robertson, Artisan Sales, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 1990, p. 87).
But what many seem not to realize is that Mt. Sinai was also in Midian:
- EXO 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed... 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
The most obvious Biblical reference to the location of Mt. Sinai is the statement by the Apostle Paul, when presenting the "allegory" of the 2 covenants:
- GAL 4:25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Some tried to "explain" this with the claim that during the time of Moses, the Sinai Peninsula was considered "Arabia". But Ancient Egyptian evidence proves that this desolate region was always under the control of Egypt:
- "...the land west of a line from the Wady of Egypt to the Elanitic Gulf [the Gulf of Aqaba] has always belonged to the Egyptian political sphere, and actually that is the present boundary of Egypt.... the South-Arabians called the same region Msr, i.e. Misraim, Egypt." ("Arabia and the Bible" by James A Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934, p. 31.)
When Ron was at Jebel el Lawz in 1985, he learned first-hand of the traditions among the inhabitants of the region which placed Jethro (Moses' father-in-law) in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Numerous other visitors to the area also have been told of the legends about Jethro and his family living around Al-Bad, which is located southwest of Jebel el Lawz, about 10 miles from the Gulf of Aqaba.
I could go on and on with references that support the traditions of Jethro and Moses in the region, but tradition is limited in its usefulness. The Jews, the Arabs, and the Christians all had different traditions as to where Noah's Ark came to rest. The proof comes from the evidence. And there is NO doubt that Jebel el Lawz is the site of the Holy Mountain, Mt. Sinai. The evidence Ron saw at the mountain is overwhelming enough, but the other evidence in the region fits the Biblical account precisely.
From the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai
With the discovery of Mt. Sinai, there remained one question--what route did they take from the sea to the mountain? At first glance, it seemed an easy answer because there is a large wadi (or canyon)- Wadi al Hasha- which leads from the large shore on the Arabian side directly to the large wadi which circles around and leads right into the main area of the Jebel el Lawz range. Then, when Rephidim, the last encampment before going to Mt. Sinai, was located, it too was in a straight line with the wadi leading from the sea. But there was one verse which indicated that the multitude had NOT gone directly to the mountain- Numbers 33:10 says that they left Elim, the 2nd stop mentioned after crossing the Red Sea, and THEN "encamped by the Red Sea".
Ron had asked our friends in Saudi Arabia, who had filmed the mountain for us, if they would "scout out" the entire region. They returned to the region many, many times and provided us with wonderful footage of their journeys, including their travels in the wadis. From their journeys and our maps, we had precise information about the region and finally believe we have been able to trace their journey, at least on a broad scale.
Rephidim was the last encampment before reaching Mt. Sinai, and later you will see the evidence which we believe proves the location of this site. The Bible mentions 4 other locations prior to reaching Rephidim- Marah, Elim, Dophkah and Alush. We aren't given enough information to be able to locate Marah with any certainty, which was where they encountered "bitter water"- was it a stream, or a lake? Neither the account in Exodus 15:23-26 or Numbers 33:8-9 makes this clear. We are given a better description of Elim:
- NUM 33:9 And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.
Our friends had stated that one thing that surprised them about the entire region of NW Saudi Arabia was the lack of palm trees, especially considering how plentiful they are in Egypt. This would certainly make an oasis with palm trees, such as Elim, quite noticeable. But there were no palm trees to be found throughout the large wadis which led from the seashore directly east. From this, we concluded that they did not take this direct route, but instead another. And the Biblical account provides more information which also indicates that they did not travel directly east from the sea:
- NUM 33:10 And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea.
For a long time, I puzzled over this- did it mean the great multitude traveled awhile, then went back to the same shore of the Red Sea? That doesn't seem likely. Instead, it indicates that they traveled either north or south, then ended up at the sea shore, although at a different location. If they went north, they would be leaving the area of the Jebel el Lawz range. But they could have gone south and still remained in the general vicinity. Although the Arabian shore at the crossing site is even larger than the beach at Nuweiba on the Egyptian side, it too is completely blocked to the south by mountains which extend out to the sea. These mountains continue along the shore for over 15 miles to the south. Then, open-shore again appears. And within these mountains are several wadis which extend through them in a north/south direction, beginning at the shore where the crossing took place and ending at the wadi to the south which again leads to the sea.
There are 2 north/south wadis in this range that are large enough to be traveled. They both end to the south where they meet with an east/west wadi. And where these 3 wadis intersect, there is an extremely large oasis with hundreds of palm trees, and 12 wells of water. The oasis is so large that it extends all the way across the width of the wadi. The wells are randomly located and today still provide water. They have recently been walled up with concrete sides. We have no doubt that this is the Biblical "Elim". The 70 palm trees have proliferated and there are now hundreds of their descendants thriving in this extremely desolate and arid region.
It was now clear what path Moses and the multitude had taken. When they left the sea after the crossing, they did NOT take the direct route which would have led them directly to Rephidim- they instead took a wadi which turned SOUTH and went THROUGH the mountains that lined the shore. The question is WHY?